The legend goes that Jack Daniel, the founder of Jack Daniel’s Distillery and Tennessee Sippin’ Whiskey, hauled off and kicked his safe one morning in 1905 when he couldn’t remember the combination. A bad memory is no reason to exact violence on an innocent safe, especially not an innocent safe probably made of steel and weighing a lot more than a well-aimed kick can move. Sure, it’s a lot better to take out your frustrations on inanimate objects, they don’t press charges as often and rarely fight back. Still, of all the things to kick in anger, a safe wouldn’t be my first choice. Ol’ Jack learned this the hard way and got a broken toe in return.
This story would be mildly funny if it ended there, sadly though, it ends with Jack’s broken toe leading to a blood infection, which then ultimately caused his demise in 1911. Though there’s no word on what became of the offending safe, we all know the whiskey lived on. Jack Daniel’s has weathered Tennessee’s and then the nation’s dabbling in prohibition, by moving out of state and then shutting down completely. They then re-opened, staggered through the war years and have over the years grown to be one of the world’s most popular whiskies. The Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel is the premium expression of the Jack Daniels core range with the small number of selected barrels being stored higher up in the warehouses to experience more extreme climate changes which, of course, leads to more intense maturation.
The Nose: All kinds of sweetness. There’s brown sugar, caramel, candied orange peel and a touch of molasses that all dance around a solid base of freshly made kettle corn. Nice notes of sugar cookie dough as well. An almost sticky-sweet nose, there might be a few woody notes buried in there, but they’re pretty faint.
The Palate: More caramel and kettle corn start things off with more sugar cookie notes following. Towards the end, the maple char, a bit of leather and oak come through more with some clove and cinnamon notes that start to dry out all the sweetness a bit. The palate develops really nicely from sweet and syrupy to spicy and dry.
The Finish: A bit of heat builds, sweet with continued soft hints of charcoal. A nice spicy, sugared oak dryness lingers.
Thoughts: Knowing that each “Single Barre”l is probably a little different than the next, I’ll say I like this better than Gentleman Jack, it’s a bit more refined, although it might be almost to sweet for its own good. The nose is one of the sweeter noses I’ve ever stuck my nose in (sorry for using “nose” 3x), but the palate makes up for the near sugar overdose by transitioning nicely to the woodier side of things. As premium Tennessee whiskies go (there’s, like…two of them at the moment), I’d still recommend the George Dickel Barrel Select (the other one) as the best of the bunch, but if smooth, sweet, American whiskies are you’re thing, give this a try.